February 22, 2012
The great companies of my youth have all fallen by the wayside, often ignominiously. DEC was the superstar computer company for computer geeks when I was in college. It eventually was bought by Compaq, who in turn was acquired by HP, and HP's own future is no longer secure.
My first job was with Tektronix, then an independent company. 4 years ago it got bought by Danaher, a company I've never even heard of. But according to Wikipedia, Danaher also owns Fluke.
Sun Microsystems -- remember them? Purchased by Oracle, of all people. What does a software company that makes databases need with a hardware company?
National Semiconductor; back in the day, during the years when the industry hadn't yet standardized on the x86 CPU, there were a lot of companies coming up with rival CPUs. One of the best was National's 16016 and its successor the 32032. It was a very clean architecture, very orthogonal. And it went nowhere, and I never understood why. Last year National got acquired by Texas Instruments.
And now? I just read that Google is in the process of acquiring Motorola. That's really quite a shock. Google? Good Grief.
How long before PepsiCo acquires IBM?
Oracle bought Sun primarily for Java. In the same transaction they also snatched Solaris, MySQL, and OpenOffice. They wanted Solaris in order to provide an integrated OS stack under their database and application suite, which was completely proprietary. This was especially acute for them as their clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux was a dramatic failure. MySQL was also hurting them badly.
IBM spun off a lot of their hardware business after the "rebirth". Not just little known divisious like hard drives. I am writing this on a Lenovo T400. I don't think anyone is going to buy the rest any time soon though. On the contrary, they are likely to buy what's left of HP.
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 22, 2012 09:59 AM (G2mwb)
They didn't. In fact, their play into the ultrabook/tablet market this fall may be their last chance to recover that position. Sure, they may have the most PC OS sales for decades to come, but if the PC market shrinks and fades away in a transition to convergence devices, what good does that do them?
I do give Wintel a pretty decent chance of pulling off a comeback, but MS cannot afford another Vista (or worse, ME), or there'll be another big-name brand on your list in our lifetimes. Intel, I think, has a stronger hand on their side, and may surprise the ARM market in a few years.
Posted by: BigD at February 22, 2012 11:06 AM (qLkdZ)
Microsoft has spent the last ten years desperately trying to diversify, and pretty much entirely failed. They've been trying to get into pocket computers and/or phones for most of that time -- remember WinCE? They tried to challenge for the game console business, and while XBox is competitive it hasn't taken over the business. And then there was MSNBC. And they tried to challenge for the portable music player market. They also tried to compete with AOL, and they continue to this day to try to compete with Google.
The desktop PC isn't going anywhere any time soon, so Microsoft isn't facing extinction, but it's hard to see what they bring to any other table. About the best they've ever done in any of those was to turn into a stable also-ran. They're #2 behind Google with Bing. They're #2 behind Sony with XBox. They're probably #3 behind Apple with their MP3 player, whatever it was called. WinPhone is losing to Android. And so on.
As to HP, that company doesn't deserve that name. The HP I know (and that I competed against when I worked at Tektronix) is now called Agilent, and it really should have gotten the HP name, leaving the other part to be called Compaq, because that's what was left. No thank you, Carly Fiorina.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 22, 2012 11:40 AM (+rSRq)
Posted by: The Brickmuppet at February 22, 2012 01:38 PM (EJaOX)
I have to disagree with your statement that MS is behind Sony with the XBox. They're ahead in worldwide sales, and the developers and buzz all seem to on the XBox side, and have been for some time. Only in Japan does the PS/3 still dominate, and the trend even there is that the XBox360 is finally being taken seriously and is selling in large numbers. And the WII actually blows them both away in terms of worldwide and Japanese sales numbers.
Posted by: David at February 22, 2012 02:45 PM (+yn5x)
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at February 22, 2012 03:04 PM (G2mwb)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 22, 2012 03:05 PM (PiXy!)
Microsoft has hooked up with Nokia, which has announced that all its phones will use WinPhone from now on. Nokia has fallen on hard times recently. Time was when they were the brand to beat in the phone business, but it ain't like that now, and Android is a lot of the reason why.
So maybe that partnership will be a win for both companies.
But with WinPhone, Microsoft's big problem is that Google is giving Android away for free. WinPhone can't be, else there would be no point in Microsoft even bothering to do it.
Google's business strategy is to try to make internet access as common, as cheap, and as easy as possible. They're trying to make internet access devices into commodities, because the more people who are online, the more money Google makes from advertising.
So it actually makes sense for them to invest in Motorola's phone business, including picking up their patent portfolio. It doesn't make sense for them to use those patents to squeeze competitors, and I don't expect they will.
That's why they developed Android and then gave it away.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 22, 2012 03:17 PM (+rSRq)
Interestingly, apparently some of the Android phone makers, HTC at least, have licensed some Microsoft patents, and there's a theory out there that MS may actually be making more money on each individual Android phone than on each Windows Phone phone, at least from HTC.
Posted by: RickC at February 22, 2012 04:18 PM (/5bLf)
I can believe that Google wants to use Motorola's patents as a wedge to get MS and Apple to loosen up the licensing on their respective portfolios of relevant patents.
That would make perfect sense.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 22, 2012 04:22 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 22, 2012 05:06 PM (+rSRq)
Microsoft is Number 2 in the current game console generation behind Nintendo. Sony lags behind both. That Sony has any large share of the video game market came despite their efforts, not because of them. With the exception of the price cuts for the PS3 and PSP (Which came far too late in the game.), every move Sony has made in its gaming division of this generation has required at least one failed attempt before they made the right decision. Meanwhile Microsoft has taken the lead in online gaming for consoles, which is not an insignificant achievement. Outside of Japan, Sony's share in the gaming industry is a distinctly underwhelming third.
If anything, it is easier to argue Microsoft is mostly where it wants to be in the console market.
Posted by: cxt217 at February 22, 2012 05:22 PM (47Cgj)
I guess my knowledge of that market was out of date.
I do know that the primary goal of the PS3 for Sony was to get Bluray players in as many hands as possible. Anything they may have lost in the gaming industry, they've more than made up by killing off the HD-DVD format and making Bluray the new standard for video discs.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 22, 2012 05:37 PM (+rSRq)
As for Sony. . . I suspect your right, and they placed winning the format war above all else. However, they screwed themselves when they decided to drop backward compatibility from the PS3. Everyone else learned the lesson of the PS2, but Sony either didn't, or felt they had no choice.
Posted by: metaphysician at February 22, 2012 08:57 PM (3GCAl)
The touting of the PS3 being used to push Blu-Ray always struck me as a case of Sony using the success of a lesser goal for the PS3 to divert attention from the failure of the console system at beating the XBox 360. Given Sony's (continual) confusion in its remarks about whether the PS3, as well as the PSP, are gaming systems or entertainment units...I tend to be skeptical of what Sony actually wanted to achieve.
And we have not even gotten into the mistakes Sony apparently has not learned from yet, like PS2 backwards compatibility...
Posted by: cxt217 at February 22, 2012 09:14 PM (47Cgj)
I don't know that Kinect will make MS a fortune (probably depends on the patents), but it certainly stands to make *some* folks working in garages a pile of money, especially when it comes out for PCs with a full dev kit. Forget Google's "nod and tilt" GUI--imagine a pair of glasses where you see transparent 3D buttons in front of you, and you put your finger on one to select it--or use Kinect-based voice recognition, which I hear isn't far behind Siri, if at all. Or a projector filling a way with an interactive display, a la MS Surface.
Minority Report? Where we're going, we don't need gloves.
Posted by: BigD at February 23, 2012 03:20 PM (qLkdZ)
Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
[spoiler]your spoiler here[/spoiler]
Spoilers which are not properly tagged will be ruthlessly deleted on sight.
Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.
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